By Molade Adegbuyi
The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, has said Northern Nigeria is on the verge of destroying itself if its leaders fail to address the myriad challenges facing them.
Sanusi, who spoke at the 60th birthday of Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai, in Kaduna on Monday, highlighted the main problems facing the region as poverty, millions of out-of-schoolchildren, malnutrition, drug abuse, Almajiri and the Boko Haram insurgency.
The emir, who insisted that no “true Northern Nigeria leader” was happy with the problems, said the North should stop relying on quota system and federal character.
He said the challenges facing the region must be addressed immediately.
This is coming a week after the World Bank in a report said 87 per cent of the poor in the country resided in the North.
The World Bank also described the North-West as home to almost half of all the poor in the country.
At El-Rufai’s 60th birthday, Sanusi singled out the Kaduna State governor for praise. He said El-Rufai ‘s investment in education would go a long way in addressing poverty.
He called on other northern elites to follow in the ex-Minister of the Federal Capital Territory’s footsteps.
According to him, investing in education is the only way the region will save itself from the imminent destruction.
The ex-Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria lamented that 87 per cent of the country’s poverty rate was in the North, with nine states in the zone constituting almost 50 per cent of the malnutrition burden of Nigeria.
Sanusi said the region should not continue to rely on quota system and federal character to get jobs for its children at the expense of the other parts of the country busy educating their children
“The real change in the North will come from those who are considered mad people, because you look around and say if this is the way we have been doing things and this is where we have ended up, maybe we need to do things differently.”
Sanusi urged political leaders, especially, the regional governors to emulate “the sternly quality” of the Kaduna State governor, commending him for injecting 40 per cent of the budget of his state into education.
He said, “And the truth is, if you look at what Nasir is doing in Kaduna, with 40 per cent of his budget in education, that is the only thing that is going to save the North. I know that, when we say these things, they don’t go down well.
“We have been saying this for 20 to 30 years. If the North does not change, the North will destroy itself. The country is moving on. The quota system that everybody talks about must have a sunset clause.
“The reason people like Nasir stand up and they are nationalists is that they don’t have any sense of inadequac
Meanwhile, the emir asked that issues of religion or tribe should have no place, but rather emphasis should be on merit.
He said, “You don’t need to rise on being from Kaduna State or being from the North or being a Muslim to get a job, you come with your credentials, you go with your competence, you can compete with any Nigerian from anywhere.
“We need to get northern youths to a point where they don’t need to come from a part of the country to get a job. And believe me, if we don’t listen, there would be a day when there would be a constitutional amendment that addresses these issues of quota system and federal character.
“The rest of the country cannot be investing, educating its children, producing graduates and then they watch us, they can’t get jobs because they come from the wrong state, when we have not invested in the future of our own children.
He said, “It is important to realise that the positions we hold are transient and they do not define us.
“Anybody can be called a governor; anybody can be called an emir; a commissioner or a minister, but at the end of the day, you should know that, God had given you a chance to do something, do leave a mark and impact people’s lives.”